Now that I’ve reached the end of the road as a staff member for The Mirror, I wanted to look back and count down the top ten articles I’ve ever written for this amazing section (SportsCenter Top Ten style, fittingly). All articles mentioned here were written by me and hold some sort of sentimental value, whether it be the writing style I introduced or simply the experience of writing it. So, here goes my “greatest hits”.

#10) “Who Will Take Home Lord Stanley’s Cup?”

Published Sept. 16, 2020

What better way to start us off than with my very first article? Backed merely by a high school degree and a good vocabulary, I decided to take my first-ever step into journalism with this article. I did some research as to who I thought would be the winner of the Stanley Cup at the dawn of the newest NHL season and basically wrote an essay (I’m not kidding). 

Now that I read it, it’s pretty corny. But it was special to me at the time and still is, as it was the spark that led to my huge interest in sports media and written communications as a whole. For the record, my prediction was pretty far off, so it left the door open for improvement and a whole lot more articles to come.

#9) “Opinion: The NHL Needs A Culture Change, Soon”

Published Nov. 17, 2021

After hearing what had happened within the Chicago Blackhawks franchise back in 2021, I was motivated by anger and frustration to write this article. It deals with the inner workings of a very serious case involving Blackhawks players and coaching staff, as well as upper management neglecting to take action against huge issues.

For some context, this article came out just days after Kyle Beach’s testimony hit the news, which struck me. I watched interviews, read stories and tried to create the most well-rounded piece possible while giving grace to Beach’s story and denouncing the Blackhawks for letting such issues pass them by.

I still believe the Blackhawks got off relatively scot-free for this issue. Though the subject matter is extremely tense and heavy, I urge you to go read this and learn the story of Kyle Beach.

#8) “Beyond the Baskets of Fairfield’s Disc Golf Course”

Published Oct. 27, 2021

Did you know Fairfield University had a disc golf course? I had always passed by these funny-looking baskets on my way to the Dolan School of Business which gave me the idea to discover their origins. I was led to none other than Fairfield University chemistry professor Kraig Steffen, Ph.D. for an in-depth interview.

Steffen actually designed the course and has been the overseer of it ever since. I haven’t been able to get out on the course myself, but I would still love to play it one day. I enjoyed writing about the fun, more intricate details of sports at Fairfield University like the disc golf course.

#7) “Fairfield Women’s Basketball Welcomes New Coach”

Published April 20, 2022

With former women’s basketball head coach Joe Frager retiring from coaching after a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference win and a March Madness appearance, the bar was set extremely high for the person to fill his shoes. When current head coach Carly Thibault-DuDonis stepped into the vacant role, she excelled and was able to shine in her first-ever head coaching role.

It was interesting to examine the backstory of Coach Carly, who has been surrounded by basketball since birth. Conducting an interview with her right as she arrived on campus helped The Mirror establish strong connections with both basketball organizations and additionally helped Stags stay informed about the new-look team. I remember putting this article together extremely quickly when the news was first announced, and really enjoyed how it all came together.

#6) “Men’s Basketball Moves Past Marist, Meets Match vs. Manhattan”

Published Feb. 22, 2023

This basketball game, personally, was like no other for me. I had media access planned in advance, got to sit in a special seat to report on the game and even was given all the press materials I needed. Attending this game helped me realize the true capabilities of the platform that is The Mirror, and it helped me realize my passion for sports journalism.

My writing style was different in this one, as well. Narrative subheadings broke up each text block which helped the article flow nicely and helped transition from block to block. There was no shortage of statistics included in this piece, which I used to help tell the story of these two basketball matchups. To me, it was the perfect blend of analytically-driven content and narrative storytelling, and I think it is one of my highest-quality articles to this day.

The reason it is in the number six spot is because the next five all mean a lot to me, and are much more unique. After all, this one simply recaps a basketball game.

#5) “Red Sea Returns With Leo D. Mahoney Arena Ribbon-Cutting Event”

Published Nov. 22, 2022

I remember sinking a lot of time and research into this piece, which was a boots-on-the-ground effort to write about the new arena opening. Since the name was unveiled a couple of weeks prior, the excitement for me was building. As you’ll see in my number four spot on this list, the “Arena 100” series was very dear to me, as I tracked its progress from the ground up. 

Seeing the completed arena for the first time was something I’ll never forget. The atmosphere they created with Leo D. Mahoney Arena is like no other, and I was happy to see how everything came together.

#4) “Arena 100 Progress Report: A Semester in Review”

Published Dec. 8, 2021

When I started the Arena 100 series, I simply took pictures of the unfinished arena and noted any updates or changes in construction over the month. This, of course, turned into a monthly update piece, but at the end of the semester, it morphed into this article, which was an entire overhaul of everything I had covered.

I got to speak with the Vice President for Athletics Paul Schlickmann, who talked to me about the arena’s features. I continually spoke to athletes who would be using the arena and got a sense of what they were excited about. I think the icing on the cake was that I was able to compile all the pictures to truly show the progress it made over a couple of months.

Overall, this one was special to me as it felt like a culmination of my hard work and it ultimately turned into a rewarding article that concluded with the “door-busting” event.

#3) “How Far-Fetched is Fairfield Football?”

Published Nov. 2, 2022

The alliteration of the headline alone is enough to make me smile. In all seriousness, I loved exploring the possibility of Fairfield’s football team returning and it was a cool experience to look through issues of The Mirror back in the 90s and early 2000s to try and find football articles.

I learned a lot about Fairfield’s football organization back when I wrote this. I also didn’t know that Ben McAdoo, who has coached many greats during his time in the National Football League, was a tight ends coach here. Go figure, right?

Our current Head Sports Editor, Ryan Marquardt ‘25, actually got in touch with a bunch of former players and attended a reunion event the team held to celebrate many great years of Fairfield football. This article thus turned into more of a series of articles that explored the real possibilities of football at our school. My parting message is that I hope to one day see the team return.

#2) “Rocket League Team Tops Iona For First MAAC Championship”

Published March 29, 2023

Writing this article specifically meant a lot to me personally, and the way it came out made me extremely happy. It felt really rewarding putting together such a unique and different type of story, which in this case tells the tale of how club Esports came to be at Fairfield University.

This story was written more narratively but ultimately reported on how Fairfield’s Rocket League team won the MAAC championship over Iona University. The team members are incredibly talented and getting to speak to them for this article only elevated the story, in my opinion. As a Rocket League player myself, it was easy to write and bring a fresh take to the sports section.

#1)  “Stag to Soccer Star: Matt Turner Returns to Fairfield”

Published Oct. 7, 2021

This was by far the coolest experience I’ve ever had as a reporter and writer for The Mirror, and I hope this serves as a blueprint for future sports writers who are looking to cover stories like this. Granted, it’s not my most well-written piece (as I was only a year into my journalism career), but it is easily one of the most memorable articles I’ve ever written.

To summarize, Matthew Turner ‘17 announced he was returning to Fairfield for a night dedicated to his honor. The alum walked onto the men’s soccer team here and instantly became a name in the soccer world—eventually, after some time in Major League Soccer with the New England Revolution, he became the starting goalkeeper for the U.S. Men’s National Team at the pinnacle of world football. 

In 2022, Turner became a goalkeeper for Arsenal F.C., one of the most well-known and famous franchises in the English Premier League. As of August of this year, however, he has joined the Nottingham Forest F.C. squad as their starting keeper. 

His time at Fairfield was tumultuous, to say the least; he went viral for an own goal he let in as a young goalkeeper. He didn’t let adversity define him and has since become one of the greatest soccer goalkeepers in the world, and his roots start right here in Fairfield, Conn. 

In my article, I got the chance to sit down with Turner himself for an interview and pick his brain on what it’s like to be back and how Fairfield helped prepare him for his soccer playing career. He was a super down-to-earth guy and I was super grateful for the chance to chat with him. This was, by far, the coolest experience I’ve had.

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